No Hit Blunders: A Brief History of TV's Quickest Cancellations
Tuesday/October/20 2009 Filed in: Entertainment / Media
2009's Fall TV season is only a few weeks old but already has two casualties.
Proving that sometimes four million Twitter followers just aren't enough, Ashton Kutcher's The Beautiful Life on CW was the first to go, followed by NBC's Southland which hadn't even had its official fall premiere yet.
But Hollywood is a tough town and always has been.
1969 ABC Turn On gets Turned Off During the Premiere
Hoping to leverage off the wild success of Laugh In, George Schlatter and ABC launched similar-but-different Turn On in 1969, guest hosted by Tim Conway. To say the show was not well received is an understatement.
The cast threw a party in LA the night of the show's first and only airing. Accounting for time zones, Turn On was seen first by audiences on the East Coast. But by the time it was showtime in California, the show had already been cancelled. The premiere party suddenly became a wrap party. Ouch.
1979 CBS Co-Ed Fever Flunks Out the First Day of Class
National Lampoon's Animal House was hot and every TV network wanted a piece of the action.
CBS offered Co-Ed Fever in 1979, a half hour sitcom about a previously all-female college that changed its admission policy to admit males.
The pilot was given a special pre-season airing but the show was cancelled before its official scheduled premiere. In retrospect, this was probably good news for David Keith, one of the shows stars. The cancellation freed him up to launch a respectable movie career, including such films as The Great Santini and Officer and A Gentleman. Heather Thomas, also in the cast, went on to do several seasons on Lee Major's The Fall Guy.
1993 CBS South of Sunset Goes South
Remember Cody McMahon ... that cool detective on that early 90's show?
No, you don't. Nobody remembers Cody McMahon or South of the Sunset, the show that was to be the career changer for Eagles front man Glenn Frey.
Maybe it was a surprise that the show was yanked after only one airing. Glenn was not only a rock star but had been associated with the cult-hit Miami Vice, appearing in one of the episodes and performing two hit songs for the shows iconic soundtrack.
But the premiere was pre-empted in some areas for news coverage of fires raging in Malibu. Also, Miami Vice had been off the air for several years by the time South of Sunset hit the airwaves and perhaps many viewers had already forgotten about Smuggler's Blues and You Belong to the City.
Fortunately for Glenn, Hell froze over shortly after and he was free to rejoin his Eagle buddies. Ariel Spears, also in the cast, went on to a long successful run on Fox's MadTV.
1966 ABC Tammy Grimes Show Should Have Been Bewitched...But Wasn't
This show made TV history in 1966 as one of the first sitcoms booted after only four airings. That. of course, doesn't sound like very many now, but back then networks held off much longer before dropping the axe on a scripted drama or comedy.
Ironically, the stars of this cancelled show were kinda sorta almost the cast for one of TV's most successful shows.
The program, scheduled as a lead-in for Bewitched, was a showcase for then-popular Tammy Grimes who starred as a rich heiress squandering her money while her banker tries to rein in her wasteful spending. Her character's brother was portrayed by Dick Sargent, who sometime after the shows demise, went on to be the second Darren on Bewitched.
For further Bewitched irony, it's reported that Tammy Grimes, with the right of first refusal, had turned down the role of Samantha in the soon-to-be-hit series.
But a show somewhat similar to the Tammy Grimes Show also premiered that season.
ABC's The Pruitts of Southampton, starring Phyllis Diller, certainly wasn't a monster hit, but it stayed afloat longer than the Tammy Grimes Show. Maybe the show's relative success had something to do with Diller's fun, campy, over-the-top show intro. Marvy-poo!